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Roberts wins dash into Alhama de Murcia

In Australian parlance, Milram's Luke Roberts is having a "blinder" of a season, and his road renaissance continued on Friday as he claimed the third stage of the Tour of Murcia in Spain.

Roberts sprinted ahead of a select front peloton to secure arguably the biggest stage win of his career and his first since the 2008 Giro del Capo. He was joined on the podium by Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil) and Josep Jufre (Astana), who assumed the race lead.

"That was a perfect stage for us! Our performances the last few days hadn't been rewarded and this is a great satisfaction for us,“ said Milram's Directeur Sportif Ralf Grabsch at the podium ceremony. "Our team did a good job to bring Luke Roberts and Tommy Rohregger into the finale. In the end there were no sprinters there and we had the strongest rider in the group; Luke.“

Grabsch also praised Milram neo-pro Dominik Nerz for his work on the second of the stage's two Category 1 climbs. "Dominik is riding very strongly here this week and has integrated himself into the team very well. Today he was the most important helper on the mountains for Roberts, [who was] falling back only shortly before the top. That was a great performance on this Queen stage.“

Jufre's control of the yellow jersey owed a lot to his ability to stay on terms with the front group, but his path to the tunic was made easier after former leader Robert Hunter (Garmin-Transitions) exited the race during the stage. The South African dashed immediately away from Spain to be by his wife's side after word arrived that she had gone into labour with the couple's second child.

Roberts, too, accelerated his way into second overall. Frantisek Rabon (Team HTC-Columbia) has assumed third place on the major classification.

The race to remember Pantani

Although the stage profile indicated only one truly significant climb, the Category 1 Alto del Collado Bermejo had been the centre of attention even before the start of the Tour on Wednesday.

Faced with a storm of controversy over his alleged discrimination against Italian teams, Race Director Paco Guzmán had pointed to the summit - where a memorial prize to Marco Pantani would be awarded to the first rider to cross - as a symbol of solidarity with Spain's European neighbours.

Whatever the significance of the climb, 107 riders set off from Las Torres de Cotillas bound for its slopes. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) appeared more anxious than most when he escaped with nine other riders early in the stage. An impromptu tête-à-tête ensued between RadioShack and the temporary leaders as the American squad worked to successfully reel in the escape.

Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil), Michal Kwiatkowski (Caja Rural), Jan Barta (NetApp) and Marcel Barth (German Team) were the next to zip off the front. The quartet quickly revealed themselves as the escape of the day; building a lead of nine minutes on their way past the 50-kilometre mark.

That'll do boys

The leash was extended only so far, however, as RadioShack, Garmin-Transitions and Rabobank marshalled their troops and reduced the advantage to below five minutes. The gap was broken by a sole chaser, Frenchman Alexandre Blain (Endura Racing), whose brave attempt fell to nought over the next 30 kilometres.

Several minutes after the four escapees had begun the only other categorized climb of the day, the Cat. 3 Alto de Pliego, Race leader Robert Hunter (Garmin-Transitions) pulled over to the side of the road. The South African was to begin an even more desperate race: to be with his wife, who had just gone into labour.

Despite the symbolism of the Bermejo, the race did have to contend with the Alto de Espuña on its way to the summit. Though lower in altitude that the climb that would follow, the Category 1 ascent proved fatal for the breakaway and its lead had all but evaporated as the Bermejo began.

Dutch courage not quite enough

As expected, the final climb again served to change the face of the race. Peter Weening (Rabobank) appeared solo on the descent, but it had been Wouter Poels who had secured the Marco Pantani prize for another of the race's other Dutch team, Vacansoleil.

Clearly, Poels was in a boisterous mood as he worked to bridge across to Weening with Vacansoleil teammate Rob Ruijgh, Josep Jufre (Astana) and Stefan Denifl (Cervélo TestTeam). Sky's Chris Froome and Wiggins had been fifth and sixth across the summit, but it was the quintet ahead that put their heads down in a desperate dash to the finish.

With six kilometres to go on the largely down hill run to the line the escape held a 25-second advantage over a group of some 25 riders, including Wiggins and Lance Armstrong (RadioShack). Three kilometres later and the gap was just 10 seconds as the break's slim hope wore thinner and thinner.

But alas, the majority ruled over the minority as the escape was swept up on the approach to the final kilometre. In a group that contained the race's expected heads of state, it was Luke Roberts (Milram) who proved to be the best of the select bunch as he crossed the line ahead of Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil) and former-escapee turned new race leader, Jufré (Astana).

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram4:16:47
2Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
3Josep Jufre (Spa) Astana
4Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
5Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team Radioshack
6Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank
7Stefan Denifl (Aut) Cervélo TestTeam
8Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin - Transitions
9Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky
10José Herrada (Spa) Caja Rural
11Roman Kireyev (Kaz) Astana
12Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team Milram
13Martin Velits (Svk) Team HTC - Columbia
14Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana
15Jack Bauer (NZl) Endura Racing
16Philip Deignan (Irl) Cervélo TestTeam
17Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
18Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin - Transitions
19Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Team HTC - Columbia
20Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Team Sky
21Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
22Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank
23Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
24Oscar Pujol (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam
25Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Team Radioshack
26Lance Armstrong (USA) Team Radioshack
27Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank
28Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana
29José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Team Radioshack
30Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
31Morris Possoni (Ita) Team Sky0:00:06
32Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky0:00:09
33Dominik Nerz (Ger) Team Milram0:03:41
34Gert Dockx (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia
35Rubén Reig (Spa) Caja Rural
36Vicente Reynes (Spa) Team HTC - Columbia
37Mauricio Ardila (Col) Rabobank
38Danny Pate (USA) Garmin - Transitions
39Michal Golas (Pol) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
40Jan Barta (Cze) Team Netapp0:05:23
41Nico Keinath (Ger) Team Netapp
42Sergey Chernetskiy (Rus) Russian National Team
43Vitor Rodrigues (Por) Caja Rural
44Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
45Salvador Guardiola (Spa) Spanish National Team0:08:07
46Ian Wilkilson (GBr) Endura Racing
47José Carlos Lara (Spa) Spanish National Team
48Egor Korolev (Rus) Russian National Team
49Iñigo Cuesta (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam
50Marcel Wyss (Swi) Cervélo TestTeam
51Bolat Raimbekov (Kaz) Astana
52David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Transitions
53Russell Downing (GBr) Team Sky0:11:37
54Evan Oliphant (GBr) Endura Racing
55Dariusz Batek (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
56Arturo Mora (Spa) Caja Rural
57Higinio Fernández (Spa) Caja Rural
58Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram
59Robert Partridge (GBr) Endura Racing
60Bjorn Schroder (Ger) Team Milram
61Nicolas Portal (Fra) Team Sky
62Artur Ershow (Rus) Russian National Team
63Stefan Schafer (Ger) German National Team
64Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Team Netapp
65Manuel Anton (Spa) Spanish National Team
66Daryl Impey (RSA) Team Radioshack
67Gregory Rast (Swi) Team Radioshack
68Alexandre Blain (Fra) Endura Racing0:23:53
69Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team Netapp
70Timon Seubert (Ger) Team Netapp
71Oleg Chuzhda (Ukr) Caja Rural
72Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team Netapp
73Antonio Cabello (Spa) Spanish National Team
74Tomasz Lisowicz (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
75Krzystof Jezowsky (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
76Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia
77Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia
78Dominik Roels (Ger) Team Milram
79Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
80Maxim Kozyrev (Rus) Russian National Team
81Alexander Sokolov (Rus) Russian National Team
82Robert Bengsch (Ger) German National Team
83Adan Sznitko (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
84Pablo Lechuga (Spa) Spanish National Team
85Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin - Transitions
86Valentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana
87Trent Lowe (Aus) Garmin - Transitions
88Jason Mccartney (USA) Team Radioshack
89Erik Mohs (Ger) German National Team
90Víctor Cabedo (Spa) Spanish National Team
91Joao Correia (Por) Cervélo TestTeam
92Robert Bartko (Ger) German National Team
93Sergey Shilov (Rus) Russian National Team
94Marcel Barth (Ger) German National Team
95James Moss (GBr) Endura Racing
96Alexander Rybakov (Rus) Russian National Team
97Ross Creber (GBr) Endura Racing
98Theo Bos (Ned) Cervélo TestTeam
99Roger Kluge (Ger) Team Milram
100Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Caja Rural
101Lukasz Bodnart (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
102Dmitry Kozontchuk (Rus) Rabobank
103Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Team HTC - Columbia
104Henning Bommel (Ger) German National Team
ABNRobert Hunter (RSA) Garmin - Transitions
ABNJohn Lee Augustyn (RSA) Team Sky
ABNAlexsandr Dyachenko (Kaz) Astana

Sprint 1 - Archena
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team3pts
2Marcel Barth (Ger) German National Team2
3Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Caja Rural1

Mountain 1 - Alto de Pliego (Cat. 3)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team3pts
2Jan Barta (Cze) Team Netapp2
3Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Caja Rural1

Mountain 2 - Alto de Espuña (Cat. 1)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team10pts
2Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team8
3Jan Barta (Cze) Team Netapp6
4Stefan Denifl (Aut) Cervélo TestTeam4
5Iñigo Cuesta (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam2
6Oscar Pujol (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam1

Mountain 3 - Alto de Collado Bermejo (Cat. 1). Cima Marco Pantani
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team10pts
2Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank8
3Stefan Denifl (Aut) Cervélo TestTeam6
4Josep Jufre (Spa) Astana4
5Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky2
6Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky1

Points 1 - Molina de Segura
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team3pts
2Marcel Barth (Ger) German National Team2
3Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Caja Rural1

Points 2 - final
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram25pts
2Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team20
3Josep Jufre (Spa) Astana16
4Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank14
5Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team Radioshack12
6Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank10
7Stefan Denifl (Aut) Cervélo TestTeam9
8Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin - Transitions8
9Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky7
10José Herrada (Spa) Caja Rural6
11Roman Kireyev (Kaz) Astana5
12Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team Milram4
13Martin Velits (Svk) Team HTC - Columbia3
14Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana2
15Jack Bauer (NZl) Endura Racing1

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
3Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
4Cervelo Test Team
5Team Radioshack
6Team Sky0:00:06
7Team Milram0:03:41
8Garmin - Transitions
9Team HTC - Columbia
10Caja Rural0:09:04
11Endura Racing0:19:44
12Team Netapp0:22:23
13Russian National Team0:25:07
14Spanish National Team0:27:51
15CCC Polsat Polkowice0:35:30
16German National Team0:59:23

General classification after stage 3
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Josep Jufre (Spa) Astana12:52:39
2Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram
3Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Team HTC - Columbia
4Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
5Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team Milram
6Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
7Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
8Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
9Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank
10Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team0:00:05
11Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky
12Martin Velits (Svk) Team HTC - Columbia
13Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
14Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team Radioshack
15Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana
16José Herrada (Spa) Caja Rural
17Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank
18Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank
19Lance Armstrong (USA) Team Radioshack
20Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Team Radioshack
21José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Team Radioshack
22Stefan Denifl (Aut) Cervélo TestTeam0:00:43
23Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana
24Jack Bauer (NZl) Endura Racing0:01:03
25Oscar Pujol (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam0:01:09
26Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin - Transitions0:02:53
27Philip Deignan (Irl) Cervélo TestTeam
28Vicente Reynes (Spa) Team HTC - Columbia0:03:41
29Michal Golas (Pol) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
30Dominik Nerz (Ger) Team Milram
31Danny Pate (USA) Garmin - Transitions0:03:46
32Gert Dockx (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia
33Rubén Reig (Spa) Caja Rural
34Morris Possoni (Ita) Team Sky0:04:23
35Sergey Chernetskiy (Rus) Russian National Team0:05:28
36Vitor Rodrigues (Por) Caja Rural
37Jan Barta (Cze) Team Netapp0:06:06
38Mauricio Ardila (Col) Rabobank0:06:34
39Roman Kireyev (Kaz) Astana0:07:51
40Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin - Transitions0:08:06
41Ian Wilkilson (GBr) Endura Racing0:08:07
42Egor Korolev (Rus) Russian National Team
43David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Transitions0:08:12
44Salvador Guardiola (Spa) Spanish National Team0:08:50
45Marcel Wyss (Swi) Cervélo TestTeam
46Iñigo Cuesta (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam0:11:00
47Daryl Impey (RSA) Team Radioshack0:11:37
48Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram
49Artur Ershow (Rus) Russian National Team0:11:42
50Gregory Rast (Swi) Team Radioshack
51Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Team Netapp
52Evan Oliphant (GBr) Endura Racing0:12:20
53Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team0:13:14
54Robert Partridge (GBr) Endura Racing0:14:30
55Dariusz Batek (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
56Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Team Sky0:18:09
57Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky0:18:18
58Bolat Raimbekov (Kaz) Astana0:19:03
59Higinio Fernández (Spa) Caja Rural0:19:28
60Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank0:23:53
61Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team Netapp
62Alexandre Blain (Fra) Endura Racing
63Sergey Shilov (Rus) Russian National Team
64Jason Mccartney (USA) Team Radioshack0:23:58
65Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia0:24:33
66Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia0:26:46
67Nico Keinath (Ger) Team Netapp0:26:54
68Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team Netapp0:27:13
69José Carlos Lara (Spa) Spanish National Team0:29:38
70Russell Downing (GBr) Team Sky0:29:46
71Nicolas Portal (Fra) Team Sky
72Arturo Mora (Spa) Caja Rural0:30:19
73Bjorn Schroder (Ger) Team Milram0:31:38
74Valentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana0:31:39
75Henning Bommel (Ger) German National Team0:31:44
76Alexander Rybakov (Rus) Russian National Team
77James Moss (GBr) Endura Racing0:32:00
78Stefan Schafer (Ger) German National Team0:33:11
79Trent Lowe (Aus) Garmin - Transitions0:33:50
80Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin - Transitions0:36:55
81Víctor Cabedo (Spa) Spanish National Team0:37:38
82Roger Kluge (Ger) Team Milram0:37:42
83Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Team HTC - Columbia
84Erik Mohs (Ger) German National Team0:40:30
85Krzystof Jezowsky (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice0:42:02
86Oleg Chuzhda (Ukr) Caja Rural0:42:40
87Theo Bos (Ned) Cervélo TestTeam0:43:10
88Dmitry Kozontchuk (Rus) Rabobank0:44:50
89Timon Seubert (Ger) Team Netapp0:45:24
90Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Caja Rural
91Joao Correia (Por) Cervélo TestTeam
92Manuel Anton (Spa) Spanish National Team0:45:25
93Marcel Barth (Ger) German National Team0:45:28
94Tomasz Lisowicz (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice0:49:48
95Dominik Roels (Ger) Team Milram
96Ross Creber (GBr) Endura Racing
97Robert Bengsch (Ger) German National Team
98Maxim Kozyrev (Rus) Russian National Team
99Alexander Sokolov (Rus) Russian National Team
100Robert Bartko (Ger) German National Team
101Lukasz Bodnart (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
102Pablo Lechuga (Spa) Spanish National Team0:50:37
103Adan Sznitko (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice0:56:16
104Antonio Cabello (Spa) Spanish National Team0:57:41

Sprint classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexandre Blain (Fra) Endura Racing6pts
2Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team5
3Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team3
4Marcel Barth (Ger) German National Team2
5José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Team Radioshack2
6Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank2
7Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Caja Rural1
8Roman Kireyev (Kaz) Astana1
9Erik Mohs (Ger) German National Team1
10Rubén Reig (Spa) Caja Rural1

Mountains classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team20pts
2Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team17
3Stefan Denifl (Aut) Cervélo TestTeam12
4José Herrada (Spa) Caja Rural8
5Danny Pate (USA) Garmin - Transitions7
6Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team4
7Rubén Reig (Spa) Caja Rural4
8Alexandre Blain (Fra) Endura Racing2
9Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin - Transitions2
10Roman Kireyev (Kaz) Astana2
11Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank1
12Trent Lowe (Aus) Garmin - Transitions1

Points classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin - Transitions50pts
2Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank40
3Vicente Reynes (Spa) Team HTC - Columbia32
4Alexandre Blain (Fra) Endura Racing20
5Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team Netapp19
6Daryl Impey (RSA) Team Radioshack18
7Ian Wilkilson (GBr) Endura Racing14
8Roger Kluge (Ger) Team Milram14
9Michal Golas (Pol) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team13
10Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Team HTC - Columbia10
11Krzystof Jezowsky (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice10
12Josep Jufre (Spa) Astana9
13Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin - Transitions9
14Russell Downing (GBr) Team Sky8
15Valentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana5
16Bolat Raimbekov (Kaz) Astana5
17Víctor Cabedo (Spa) Spanish National Team4
18Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team3
19Egor Korolev (Rus) Russian National Team3
20Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram3
21Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram2
22Sergey Shilov (Rus) Russian National Team2
23Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram2
24José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Team Radioshack2
25Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team2
26Rubén Reig (Spa) Caja Rural1
27Roman Kireyev (Kaz) Astana1
28Erik Mohs (Ger) German National Team1

Team classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team38:37:57
4Team Radioshack0:00:10
5Cervelo Test Team0:02:35
6Team Milram0:03:41
7Team HTC - Columbia0:03:46
8Garmin - Transitions
9Caja Rural0:09:19
10Endura Racing0:20:27
11Team Sky0:21:59
12Team Netapp0:23:11
13Russian National Team0:25:12
14CCC Polsat Polkowice0:56:32
15Spanish National Team1:03:50
16German National Team1:45:25

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